I have taught in Reformed theological seminaries for many years, from 1966-2004 at Westminster TS in Philadelphia, now at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas. Encouraged by the broad visions of Presidents Ed Clowney and Sam Logan, I experienced the deep joy of working together with students from many Reformed denominations, in grasping and being grasped by the biblical understanding of the grace and kindness of God. At WTS we spoke of our mission as training leaders from 40 countries and 80 denominations.
What made that more meaningful was my own history. I grew up in a small town in Iowa with three Presbyterian churches, all different denominations, one of them in a group of only four churches. When it seemed clear to me that it was unwise for me to continue in a large liberal denomination, I found my way to a small separatist group. The people there were committed to the biblical Gospel, but also to their own distinct values, which seemed to me to be excessively narrow.
Now at Redeemer Seminary, as a Presbyterian I am increasingly attracted to our group of students from a local Acts 29 Southern Baptist network. They love God’s Word and his Gospel of grace, and I love them. Dallas is also the center of conservative Anglicanism in North America, and I hope we can serve them too.
The sadness with students is that they graduate and move on. Could it be possible for that classroom trans-denominational Gospel fellowship to continue and grow beyond graduation? I experience that partially already and pray for much more of it in the future. Yes, we need to be very clear about grace. But we also need balance in the breadth of the Gospel of grace, that we not ‘major in minors.’
That is the blessed reality and vision that WRF gives me. I joyfully discover in my world of friends of Jesus: Baptists, Anglicans, and those in the large liberal denomination I left long ago. WRF expands that hope and works toward its fulfilment. I welcome WRF fellowship as a kind of culmination of the broad Reformed vision that has inspired me for so long.
Dr. D. Clair Davis